Losing Adam

Losing Adam means losing so much more besides. That is because losing Adam is likely to prove the beginning of losing our Bibles. Like the gardener who decides to trim his hedge, he finds that an aggressive cut at one point leaves a lopsided creation which requires further cuts here and there in order to restore a sense of balance and proportion to his judging eye. As Lloyd-Jones makes plain, "the Bible is a unity. We must take it all." The whole of Scripture stands or falls together. Once the first cut is made, there is no saying how many more cuts must follow until the man with the knife is satisfied.

What are some of the specific cuts that might follow when we lose Adam? What, in this sense, falls with an historical Adam? When the creation and the Fall are undermined, what tumbles with them?

Losing Adam means losing my dignity. As a son of Adam, I know I am made in the image of God. That Adam was made distinctly, separate from every other creature, for a particular purpose and with a particular stewardship, establishes not just the dignity of my being, but that of every human being. Losing Adam may mean, in principle, losing vital ground in the battles against the sex trade, abortion, slavery, and a multitude of other spheres where the conviction of human worth is a reason for Christian engagement. It means losing that sense of vocation that comes from being, after a fashion, a steward in and of God's earth.

Losing Adam means losing my humanity. What it means to be male, and - by extension - female, finds its roots in the creation of the first man and the first woman. Hinging upon this is the whole construct of marriage. It is no accident that when the Lord Christ and the apostle Paul speak to the issue of marriage, they go back to creation. Losing Adam means losing the solid basis for complementarianism, with the God-ordained pattern for male-female relationships that has its origin in the very beginning of human life.

Losing Adam means that I have no adequate explanation for the sinfulness of my soul or my race. Adam as some kind of generic Everyman does not provide me with that foundation. Only Adam properly explains how sin and death entered God's world. Losing Adam means I have no fixed point from which to interpret the misery of mankind lost in sin and the awful realities of spiritual and physical death, for "through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom 5.12). It robs me of that which makes sense of the world as it is, populated by people like me whose hearts are by nature wholly inclined to sin, and it threatens to rob me of the need for atonement.

Losing Adam means losing hope, for my solidarity with Adam as a man condemned finds its Scriptural counterpart in my solidarity with Christ, the last Adam, as a man redeemed. Adam is "a type of him who was to come" (Rom 5.14) - all the God-ordained parallels and constructs out of which my salvation finds its form and substance are lost if an historical Adam is lost. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive," wrote the apostle in 1 Corinthians 15.22. But if there is no Adam in relationship to whom I die, how can I be confident that my parallel relationship with the Christ secures my life? If there is no imputation of Adam's sin, why should there be an imputation of Christ's righteousness? I cannot have one without the other. Thomas Goodwin's famous illustration illuminates the concern: if there are, in essence, and as far as God's dealings with the world are concerned, only two men in the whole world, two giants upon one of whose belts every other individual is hooked, then what shall I do when one of those giants is suddenly taken out of the equation? All of a sudden the existence of the other, specifically in that relationship of soteriological solidarity, begins to look more than a little hazy. If the one is a mere fairy tale or cipher, what of the other?

But losing Adam means losing not only my present but also my future hope. If there is no earthly man whose image I have borne, what confident expectation do I have of one day bearing the image of the heavenly man? The parallels again demand either that having shared in Adam's earthiness I will - united to Christ - one day share in his heavenliness, or that with my abandonment of an historical Adam so I must largely abandon my expectation of a physical resurrection in Christ Jesus. And not only that, but if the Fall falls with Adam, then what restoration do we have to look forward to? There is, perhaps, nothing to restore. The creation does not groan for redemption under the weight of Adam's transgression because no Adam transgressed, and if we have nothing to look forward to in the consummation of our redemption, then the creation either does not groan or groans in vain. What will become of the new creation if we lose the old one? What hope of a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells if the old one had no historical Adam who had an historical Fall? I am told to wait for that moment when, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed. Must I now reinterpret that to mean an aeons-long progression of gradual development toward the heavenly state?

If I want to know who and what I am, before God and by divine design and intention, as a redeemed man with the prospect of glory with Christ ahead of me, then I need an historical Adam. In one sense, he paints all the needs that Christ meets. In another, he provides the outlines which Christ fills and the constructs within which Christ operates. Ultimately, if I lose the first Adam, I lose the second and last Adam. Losing Adam means losing Christ.


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